Italian without words.

This is a fun one and more truth to it that you might imagine. I spend the largest portion of my Italian time in the north of Italy (somewhere between Siena and Rome an  imaginary line that separates the north from the south. The south thinks that the northerners are all Austrian and German and not really Italian at all since northern Italians take the lunch to work in a bag. In their view no respectable Italian eats at his or her desk.

The northerners think they are the Italians because the Renaissance took place in Florence and had a lasting effect on the inhabitants of cities like Bologna, Verona and Milano. Northerners thought of southerners as people the hard working and tax paying north had to take care of while they sipped coffee in the morning and wine in the afternoon. Southerners were only Greeks or north Africans in disguise.  Regional loyalty continues even today.

What you see in this video you will see more frequently in the south. The hand gestures are very much a part of the unspoken communications that goes on from Rome to Palermo and Palermo to Pescara. Thanks to Carol Garborg for passing this clever piece on to me so that I could post it for my friends.

Guest Post – Encouragement all around

Early in the week I reached out to a few people with some specific areas for support/advice.  The response was really quite overwhelming, so for those who have been thinking about it and giving us support, a big thank you hug:

Your internet thank you hug

Lydia* the transgendered atheist– Last week I got invited to come check out the “literature bibles” another Christian organization had setup close to a metro.  It’s basically a bunch of different short pieces of literature about certain Christian topics that might interest people.  Sometimes people just want to talk.  Now, I have to confess: chatting with random people on the street and initiating a discussion about spiritual matters is not my strong suit.  As I was talking to Jim the organizer, a woman walked up and started shouting at him from afar saying he’s part of  a cult, he is doing horrible things by talking about Jesus etc etc.  As she approached, he mentioned she often comes to visit on Tuesdays.  I love engaging with people and hearing the story:

Me: So not a fan of Jim?

Her: No!  He’s a horrible person trying convert people to his cult.  He should be teaching about Nietzsche.

Me: Humm.. I don’t know much about Nietzsche.  Why do you say Christianity is a cult? …  I was asking lots of questions and trying to understand her perspective of things …

Her: Christianity is a hateful organization.  They hate gays!

Me: I totally agree with you that Christians have done horrible things to people who are gay, and I don’t agree with how they treated them.  Christians should be acting more like Jesus.  How would you say Jesus would have interacted with someone who identified themselves as gay?

Her: ** For the first time she pauses, and softens in her posture.  She then turns back to her argumentative stance** It doesn’t matter!  You’re in a cult!  Try to escape… you seem like a smart, nice person.

We spoke for another 10 minutes.  I found her really interesting and educated.  She brought up a bunch of complex Canadian political issues.  She told me later she was a transgendered person.  I was really happy at the end we were able to shake hands.

The literature/discussion table

Michel getting some tangible encouragement – Every day I show up at the sans logis, Michel (another volunteer) has already been there long before everyone else.  He gets the milk, coffee and all the bowls ready.  Today though, something was off, he just didn’t seem happy.  While the rest of the crew and I were finishing up, one of the ladies mentioned he was totally out of cash.  He normally loves doing the dishes but they were all piled up and Michel was no where to be found!  I found him out from of the building reading a book.

Me: Everything okay?

Him: No.. I’ve got no money.  No where to sleep.

Me: Whoa..  You’re homeless too?  I had no idea.

Him: Yep.

Me: Here’s 50 euros some people at home gave me to bless people.  I really feel Jesus would want you to have it.

Him: Say what?!?!?!? HAHAHAHA!!  Dieu est grand!  DIEU EST GRAND!  I was crying to get some money from God.  Look at my knees!  They are sore from all the praying (he actually showed me his knees).

Turns out Michel doesn’t have a place to live anymore.  They let him keep his small stuff at in a closet at the sans logis but his bigger stuff is in a secure self-storage facility.  He had to come up with another 57 euros in two days or they will move his stuff out.  He said he now has faith for the extra 7 euros.  Go God!

Michel and Jevin

Mathieu* lost his courage – I sat with some of my favorite dudes during breakfast to ask him how things were going:

Mathieu: Not good at all.  I’m crazy anxious.

Me: Oh yeah? Why’s that?

Mathieu: I’m not sure it’s always been that way.

Me: I hear you.  I deal with lots of different things I fear.  I find that it makes me want to control things.  I have realized that I can only control so much.  The extent that God can control things is so much wider that I’m learning to depend on Him more.

Mathieu: I would like the pray, but I cannot.  I’m not even sure why.  It seems like my heart “a perdu tous mon courage” (has lost all courage/hope). If I didn’t have these guys (points to his friends having breakfast at the table next to us), I’m sure I would jump off a building somewhere.

We had a great chat about him being a waiter, sharing his studio apartment with other homeless friends.  He really wants to work/live outside to enjoy the simplicities of life.  I offered to offer him some of my energies to help him find a job like that but he declined and insisted I don’t pursue it: “you have a beautiful family to take care of”.  I said: “If that’s what you think would help you the most, I will pray for you and bring you café”

The fam visits the sans logis – All the homeless folk always ask about my family.  I thought I’d introduce them!  It was a hoot.  I think everyone just enjoyed the baby’s fresh face smiling back at them unconditionally.

Michel, Ashley, Baby and Lydia.

* Not their real names

No moss grew under our feet…

Ottawa Valley, Canada May 3 to June 1, 2012

From the moment we arrived we were knee deep in visits and ministry. Though not in order here’s just a few of the things we did while there. We hardly ate at home by ourselves for even one night.


Stittsville, Ontario

Sunday, May 7    Tony (Preaching) Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church. Message available at

Sunday, May 7    Tony, Evangelism Planning

Sunday, May 14  Jeanne (Preaching)

Sunday, May 20  Dedication of Liam Michael Cordell

Hyde Park Outreach Planning Meeting

Carleton Place

Friday, May 25   Fund raising concert event

Smith’s Falls Free Methodist Church

Sunday, May 27  Two messages “The Deeper Work of the Spirit” and “Like Jumping to Capri”

Lunch and Dinner Meetings

Ken and Linda R., Bev and Chuck F.(2x’s), Bud and Debbie N. (2X’s), Andrew and Lauren R., Larry, Leslie, Nick and Janet, Paul L., Mark and Tracy P., Dave H., Sarah J., Henk, Jack M., Irene and Sam, W., Gustavo and Elvira, Steve and Wendy F., Bill and Lorna S., Kerry, Jerry, Bud and Debbie N., Larry B., and Kari Y., (Tony), Kris H., Barb S., Lori, Lilly and Pat S., Liz R., Linda H. and Rita O., Randy and Tracy H., Sandy and Doreen C. (Jeanne), Marianne D. (Jeanne).

Thanks for all of the love and good food!!!

Caughnawana Fishing and Hunting Club, Established 1899

For the last five years or more Mark Peterkins of One-Way Ministries has tried to get me on board with his annual fishing trip to a member only lake in Quebec. The Caughnawana Hunting and Fishing Club was established in 1899 but goes back much farther than that – as far back as the 1700’s. Wealthy Americans like Vanderbilt and his friends would board a New York train and take it as far as Manawaki, Ontario where he and his group would be met by Indians and pack horses. From there they would ride another hundred or more miles through very rough terrain to Lake Caughnawana about 120 kilometers from Temiscaming, Quebec, north of Deep River. Even today Temiscaming remains rather at “the end of the line.” Passenger

trains don’t even go up there anymore and for this reason Mark rented two Jeep Cherokees for the six of us who traveled in convoy from Ottawa. It took about six or more hours to get to Temiscaming. Once we arrived there we were met by John Friesen and his young friend Matt who came from near Huntsville and the Muskoka Bible Center. After meeting up at the ESSO station the roads became increasingly more difficult to maneuver. By the final turn off which took us the final fifty-eight kilometers the travel might be called, “off-roading.” In fact it is so “off-roading” that we followed a young male moose (still bigger than our car) for a short distance. He outran us. This is so remote an area that you must stop at a kiosk, give your name and identification, car license and so forth just in case you fail to come back and check out.

We arrived on Monday, took a brief rest and then squared up our gear, met at the water’s edge and went out on the barge for a couple of ours. We took turns with some just sitting in chairs and basking in the warm sun. Fortunately, on the water there are not so many black flies and mosquitoes so one has a slight chance of basking in the sun. I must warn the readier that there is always direct correlation between the amount of fish one catches and the thickness of the biting insects. Bugs are absolutely thick!

I did catch the first one, a speckle just a little over a pound – a perfect pan sized trout. This doesn’t sound like much of a fish when compared to some of the salmon and trout I have caught in excess of twenty pounds but when you have him on light tackle and a fourteen foot fly rod the fight is really something! They have the ability to bend a rod double. One more was picked up by John before we went in for supper.

Caughnawana Lodge is a private club where each of its limited seventy members must pay an annual fee of $1,500. (There is an additional cost per day to stay in the lodge with gourmet meals provided.) This means that fish stocks are quite abundant with different lakes hosting different species and different restrictions. In Caughnawana there were both Lake Trout and Speckles but just over the hill in Green Lake there were only Lakers. There are huge ones but they are rarely caught since they run in deep water and only flies can be used. Heavy metal plugs are not allowed. By July the fishing is pretty much over as the trout head into deeper cooler waters. One has about a two month window in which to catch fish – lots of fish.

I was with a great group of guys, Mark of course and his colleague Jerry O.. I rode down with Richard L., while in the other car were Steve H. and his son Matt. Arriving in Temiscaming and meeting us there were John F., and his co-worker, Dan. After an amazing meal put together by the lodge hostess, Jane, we settled in for an evening of informal discussion.

The next morning after a hearty traditional fish camp breakfast we put ourselves into three boats and took off across Caughnawana, docking at one side of a mountain, gathering up our stuff and hiking over the mountain to a wharf on the other side where four more boats awaited us. After getting them launched and started we all put on our various flies, divided the lake up and set out to try our luck on the Green. It turned out that white was the color of the day and within a short time I had hooked six and landed five, all of them almost identical in size. We had planned to gather on a small island for lunch where Brian our guide would have a shore lunch ready to go.

Brian, our host and guide

In all and with another two hours remaining we had amassed a catch of about fifteen, one short of the limit. Brian cleaned them up and fried them over a blazing campfire. Along with homemade bread and baked beans we had a marvelous, tasty and filling lunch. This is an authentic Canadian experience that perhaps less than ten percent of Canadians ever have.

Since there was a lot to do in order to get cleaned up, organized and back over the mountain (by the way, it was fairly easy going south to north but almost straight up north to south. I almost croaked.)  Again, we faced another great supper, this time, steak, mashed white and sweet potatoes, stuffed bell peppers and more.

The next morning at eleven we loaded and made our way back to our respective cities.